James Lehman; devoted to Cherry Hill baseball

James J. Lehman
James J. Lehman
Posted: February 07, 2014

After settling in Cherry Hill in 1959, James J. Lehman began attending meetings organized by the Cherry Hill American Little League. He sat in the back for the better part of a year, waiting to offer whatever services he could.

It would be something as simple as a lawn mower that would bring Mr. Lehman out to Langston Field, which at the time was on Burnt Mill Road. Sometime around 1960, the grass around the diamond needed a trim, and Mr. Lehman happened to have the equipment to do so.

It was at Cherry Hill's Little League fields, now on Ashbrook Road, that Mr. Lehman would find his sanctuary for the next half-century.

"If I got up in the morning and he wasn't home, I always knew that I could go down to the baseball fields and find him there," son Peter said Wednesday. "Even in the wintertime, he'd be there making sure the snow was melting right."

Mr. Lehman, 88, died Friday, Jan. 31, from complications following cardiac arrest at Virtua hospital in Marlton.

Born in Chicago in 1925, Mr. Lehman was a World War II tail gunner on a B-29 bomber, stationed in Japan. He was also former owner of the CR Associates Employment Agency in Philadelphia.

With the American Little League, Mr. Lehman eventually moved on to managing teams and coaching players - "he wore every single hat possible," Peter Lehman said - but his main concern was making sure the fields remained in top condition.

"He would be out there working on the sprinklers, cutting the grass, making sure everything was clean," he said.

Mr. Lehman's involvement with the Cherry Hill American Little League would eventually bring trophies: He was the team's head coach when it won its first state championship in 1983, as well as subsequent championships in 1986 and 1989. The league's field now bears his name.

"He would sit on his favorite bench and watch every game on a Saturday," said Jon Sinrich, 46, a member of the Cherry Hill American Little League's executive board. "He'd get to know kids and just talk about their lives with them."

Away from the field, Mr. Lehman was known for his cheerful demeanor and reputation as a caring husband.

Mr. Lehman met his wife, Lillian, while the two were still in high school, and the couple would remain married for 68 years.

He remained active as he got older, assisting the elderly for the health-care organization MultiCare until he turned 84.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by a daughter, Jacquelyn Morgan; son Ron; and five grandchildren.

A viewing is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, at the Healey Funeral Home, 1816 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill. Interment is private.

Donations may be made to the Cherry Hill American Little League, Box 2352, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08034.

Contact Jerry Iannelli at 856-779-3882.

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